An outbound dialer is a system that automates and manages outgoing phone calls. It works by dialing from a list of phone numbers and connecting an agent if and when someone picks up.
By automating the dialing process, they’re able to reduce repetitive administrative tasks—which means more time spent talking to customers. As a result, outbound dialers are powerful tools that can increase agent efficiency and boost call center productivity.
Outbound dialers can be good for any business that requires a high volume of outbound calls. Some of the main benefactors, for example, are companies involved with telemarketing, financial services, and those with demanding customer support centers. In these cases, using outbound dialers will often result in more sales, more qualified leads, and more resolved tickets.
Benefits of Outbound Dialers
Improved contact numbers
Although the quality of your outbound leads list is typically the only thing that can improve your percentage of connected calls out of the total calls dialed (aka the contact rate), outbound dialers can speed up the process of evaluating your outbound leads list.
Outbound dialers automate the dialing process by calling multiple numbers at once, filtering out calls that fail. They can recognize busy signals, no-answer calls, answering machines, and other non-productive outcomes.
With this system in place, agents don’t need to waste time on failed calls, so they are able to contact more customers per shift. If you find that your connection/contact rates are unusually low, you’ll know to prioritize improving your list of outbound leads.
Improved conversion rates
Increasing the contact rate can impact the number of calls, leading to a higher number of successful outcomes. With more contact time, agents can gain more experience, which can lead to better conversion rates down the line.
This increased interaction can also improve outcomes in sales, data collection, and resolution of customer service issues. That said, individual agent effectiveness is also critical to successful outcomes.
Some outbound dialers come with lead management features that can impact conversion rates, such as automatic prioritization of the most promising leads. By calling the leads that are most likely to convert first, outbound dialers help agents increase their overall success rates.
Additionally, outbound dialers that have integrations with customer relationship management systems (CRMs) can also impact conversion rates. These allow agents to know more about the customers before calling, which gives them the opportunity to provide a personalized service that’s more likely to convert.
Increased talk times
By reducing agent idle time, outbound dialers can significantly increase the amount of time that agents are speaking to actual customers. Outbound dialers ensure agents don’t have to input phone numbers manually, and they also remove the need to scroll through contact lists or wait for calls that never connect.
Decreased average handle times (AHT)
AHT refers to the average time spent from the moment a call starts to its resolution, including both time putting the customer on hold and time spent working on the issue after the call ends. This is one of the most scrutinized metrics in the entire call center industry because of how it measures overall efficiency.
When coupled with all of their other benefits, outbound dialers can improve average handle times by things like:
- Minimizing dead air while waiting for calls to connect
- Reducing the amount of time agents waste looking up customer information
- Improving agent scripts due to the added experience from higher contact rates
Decreased abandonment rates
An outbound dialer consistently engages agents with customers, which means their time is optimized. By reducing idle time and minimizing wasted time, more customers will stay on the line to resolve their issues. This boost in customer engagement should drive down abandonment rates and improve customer satisfaction.
Options for Outbound Dialers
All outbound dialers automate making outgoing calls for businesses. However, there are several different types of outbound dialers, which exist for specific purposes.
Predictive dialers try to maximize call center efficiency by using algorithms to analyze historical data and current conditions. With this data, they try to predict when an agent will become available and adjust the calling rate according to current call center conditions.
As a result, predictive dialers cut idle time while also avoiding overwhelming agents with calls.
The core function of predictive dialers is to increase contact rates. They are most suited for call centers that handle sizable outbound call volumes, such as appointment-setting services, telemarketing firms, and lead gen companies.
Predictive dialer pros:
- Improved call center efficiency
- Increased agent talk time
- Optimized call handling
Predictive dialer cons:
- Potential for abandoned calls if the system connects customers to agents who are not immediately available
- Less time for agents to prepare for each call means less personalization
A preview dialer lets agents see customer information before accepting a call. Preview dialers give more control over the call process than other outbound dialers.
Agents can accept or reject each call based on the likelihood of a successful outcome (or whether it complies with regulations).
Preview dialers work by populating a list of leads from marketing campaigns, existing lists, or customer databases. The agent has a preview time before each call begins, which is useful to review customer history and any relevant information that could improve engagement.
Preview dialers work best in industries that require a high degree of personalization, such as any company that makes high-ticket types of sales.
Additionally, industries like finance and healthcare have strict regulations regarding outbound calls, so preview dialers can help with these cases. Having control over each call helps ensure agents comply with the regulations.
Preview dialer pros:
- Agents have time to prepare for each interaction
- More traditional calling methods to comply with regulations
- Higher conversion rates due to more meaningful interactions
Preview dialer cons:
- Slower call rates
- Not as suitable for low-value leads or low-ticket sales
Power dialers automate the process of making outbound calls on a large scale. Although there are exceptions, agents don’t usually review customer information before each call begins with this kind of system.
Power dialers make a predetermined number of calls based on agent availability. The more agents available, the larger the volume of calls the power dialer makes. When a customer answers, there’s a live agent ready to connect immediately.
Typically, this kind of dialer runs through a list of phone numbers sequentially, so it doesn’t bypass voicemail or busy signals. When faced with these situations, agents can choose to disconnect or leave a voicemail.
Power dialers improve customer experience by ensuring no caller goes without an agent. Likewise, auto-dialing and queuing reduce downtime and ensure agent time is productive.
Industries that rely on large-scale outbound calling can benefit from power dialers. Telemarketing firms, ecommerce businesses, and market research companies are some examples.
Power dialer pros:
- Increased number of calls per hour
- Maximizes agent productivity
Power dialer cons:
- Agents have less control and fewer options for personalization
- Unsuitable for complex or high-ticket sales
- Agents can feel overwhelmed by call volumes
Progressive dialers aim to balance the control of preview dialers and the efficiency of power dialers. Like a power dialer, a progressive dialer makes a predetermined number of calls from a list. If there’s no answer, the system moves on to the next number.
With a progressive dialer, agents simultaneously receive customer information and the incoming call. This process makes progressive dialer systems slightly faster than preview dialers—but it also decreases the time agents have to prepare.
Progressive dialers help agents make back-to-back calls efficiently. They also improve customer service and loyalty by including some features from preview dialers.
This type of system is essential when a company needs to handle a large volume of calls but still wants to provide a personalized approach. Sales teams, for example, use progressive dialers when renewing subscriptions from an existing customer base.
Progressive dialer pros
- Excellent balance of control and automation
- Fewer dropped or abandoned calls
- Easier to stay compliant with regulations
Progressive dialer cons
- Not as efficient as power dialers
- Unsuitable for high-volume campaigns
- Less time to review customer information before calls
Outbound Dialers in Use
Out in the wild, predictive dialers like Talkdesk help sales teams in several ways. First, they free agents from having to dial numbers, and they also deal with busy signals and voicemails automatically.
Talkdesk also integrates with many CRM systems, allowing agents to use a CRM as their primary workspace while placing and receiving calls in the background.
Talkdesk’s system even features intelligent routing, which sends the call to the most suitable agent based on their skills and previous interactions. This helps maximize successful outcomes.
Of course, predictive dialers can potentially over-dial, resulting in more connections than agents available. This is something to watch out for, as it can harm customer experience and increase abandonment rates.
In any case, a correctly configured predictive dialer has benefits that outweigh its drawbacks. Just keep in mind that predictive dialers must comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Dialfire is cloud-based outbound call software with a detailed preview dialer mode. The chief benefits of this system are preparation and personalization. Both factors impact conversion rates in high-ticket sales or other businesses needing a personalized touch.
A preview dialer like Dialfire also makes it easier for agents to comply with regulations. For example, the finance and healthcare industries have specific criteria regarding unsolicited contact.
By giving manual control over each call, preview dialers avoid violating regulations or contacting people on the do-not-call (DNC) list.
Overall, preview dialers help agents prepare and give them more control over contacts, but they are less efficient than power or predictive dialing systems.
Phoneburner is a popular power dialer with a simple interface. It automates outbound calls on a large scale to maximize the number and quality of live interactions. Phoneburner agents go through as many as 60-80 contacts per hour.
Businesses that conduct many follow-ups and cold calls benefit most from using a power dialer like Phoneburner. The software automates many repetitive tasks like dialing, email follow-ups, and voicemail—therefore freeing up agents to focus on live conversations.
Genesys Cloud is a customer engagement platform with excellent progressive dialing features. This system monitors agent availability in real time, only placing calls when agents are ready to take them. This reduces abandonment rates and dropped calls.
A progressive dialing system like Genesys Cloud suits businesses that favor a controlled approach to their outreach. It may not impact contact rates or talk time as dramatically as a power dialer, but it does offer a balanced system that still increases efficiency.
Getting the Most Out of an Outbound Dialer
Outbound dialers work best when you choose the right dialing strategy for your business and specific campaign, as predictive, preview, power, and progressive dialing systems each suit different scenarios.
At the same time, no matter which type of dialing system you have, its performance will only be as good as the list of leads it uses. One way of optimizing your list is to categorize and prioritize leads based on their likelihood to convert, and outbound dialers that integrate with CRM systems make this process simpler.
Using an up-to-date DNC list is also necessary for companies using outbound dialers, as contacting anyone on this list can incur a fine of $11,000. Besides avoiding fines, using a VoIP system with an outbound dialer is often the most cost-effective option.
Some outbound dialers connect to Public Switched Telephone Network phones using custom hardware, while others use VoIP gateway technology to bridge the analog-digital gap—but unless there are specific industry regulations that stipulate the use of PSTN, a VoIP service is usually a better option.
At the end of the day, outbound dialers are powerful tools that work best when supported by quality agents and data. To find out which one is right for you, check out our list of the top VoIP services in 2023.